The future of genetics
Through a cold foyer, we're ushered in
and down into the cavernous theatre by a string
of young women in academic gowns.
Their smiles seem genuine. Something
not unlike a twisted ladder, we're told,
spins invisibly at the core of us.
Each DNA strand, if unwound, would span
a metre and a half. We're quietly impressed
and think of knitting, of surgery and love,
as one single cell appears, wall-high,
before us. This is the culmination of countless
experiments by computer animators
and geneticists. The projection falters again -
a black-clad technician rushes up,
hunched over, as if in obeisance, then
disappears. The laser pointer hovers
shakily for a moment over indigenous,
as the speaker mentions ethics, then moves on.
We're reassured Exxon is developing
a synthetic organism that could replace oil.
Another professor sniffs into a handkerchief,
blows her nose. One roving microphone
and ten minutes for the history and future
of genetics, as the house lights come up on us.
We can't help but gaze at each other's arms
and faces. Lights shine and turn on the surface
of our eyes. We are all strangely alive.
All our very good questions are answered
confidently. At the exit, a metallic tree
of coathangers, a sign disclaiming
responsibility. We lift our heavy coats -
the hangers chime.
I went to the launch (by Kevin Brophy) of Andy Jackson's the thin bridge
(Whitmore Press Poetry) at Collected Works, and what a top night. I don't
think I have ever heard Kevin be more apposite or askew – and then the
book! Andy's work just gets better and better. It becomes more yielding,
more trenchant, more charming, and more exacting. All I can say is that
it is a pity the Whitmore Press Manuscript Prize only has a print run of
200 copies. That just doesn't seem quite enough for such a little ripper
of a book.